Whenever I happen to be in Levoča, I feel like I’ve entered a different world. It opens up after crossing the ancient walls surrounding Levoča‘s historical centre through one of the town’s three gates. A short uphill walk or even a shorter drive takes you to the very heart of Levoča‘s Old Town – a medieval square skirted by tastefully renovated Renaissance houses, all of them having a story to tell.
Leutschau in German, Lõcse in Hungarian, Levoča in Slovak; these are but a few names of the small town in the north-east of Slovakia, known for its dramatic history and a wealth of architectonic gems, like the exquisitely carved wooden altar of Master Paul in Basilica of St James, the old monastery of Minorites, or the graceful Town Hall. Levoča and some other cultural monuments in its vicinity including the fabled Spišský hrad (Spiš Castle) have been on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2009.
Thanks to its strategic position on the crossroads of trade routes between Poland and Hungary, Levoča became a centre of commerce in the 15th century. The town had already enjoyed quite a few royal privileges, which added to its general wealth, as well as its high cultural and educational status.
Off the main square and closer to the town walls are less frequented, but still enjoyable places to visit. Like the old building of Levoča‘s grammar school from 1913, where many of Slovakia’s writers, linguists, scientists, politicians and artists have studied. Or the recently renovated Pracháreň – an old bastion turned a gunpowder warehouse, now made into a boutique hotel with a stylish restaurant, recommended by the locals for its authentic decor and wonderful cuisine. For some inexplicable reason, the restaurant was closed at the time of my visit last week.
On the family trip a few months earlier we had discovered Leutschau Café right in the main square, where excellent coffee is served together with delicious cakes and, surprisingly perhaps, the local craft beer.
But I was determined to have a proper meal this time, so my next stop was Kupecká bašta (Merchant’s Bastion) restaurant, just 50 metres down along the town walls from the main Košice Gate.
Bryndzové pirohy (Bryndza Cheese Filled Pirogi) with a mug of Kofola (a soft drink similar to Coke) was a good choice, though not a typical Slovak combination. The pirohy were topped with sour cream, fried bacon pieces and green onions. The meal was nice and filling, and it came promptly enough despite the family dinner party that was taking place next door.
On the way back to the bus station, I couldn’t help taking a couple of more photos of the town walls and their bastions.